Award-Winning Architect, Designer Joins Faculty

Architecture Program Chooses First Endowed Chair

An award-winning architect and principal partner in one of the nation's leading design firms has joined the Georgia Tech College of Architecture as its newest endowed faculty member.

Monica Ponce de Leon, formerly an associate professor in the Harvard Graduate School of Design, joined the Georgia Tech faculty this fall.

She is the first Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design, endowed by and named after the 1957 Tech alumnus whose global architecture firm designed many of Atlanta's landmark buildings -- including the Proscenium, the Woodruff Arts Center and the Georgia World Congress Center.

The new endowed chair is the first for Georgia Tech's Architecture Program and is expected to bring great visibility to the College of Architecture as a whole.

"Filling the Ventulett Chair enables the College of Architecture to expand its intellectual horizons," said Thomas Galloway, dean of the College of Architecture.

"With her distinguished background and successes to date, Professor Ponce de Leon will elevate not only the educational profile of the college, but also help us heighten the critical importance of design in the architecture, engineering and construction industries, nationally and internationally," Galloway said.

For the past eight years, Ponce de Leon taught design studios and courses in visual studies and ecological fabrication at Harvard. Before that, she taught at Northeastern University and the School of Architecture at the University of Miami, where in 1993 she was honored as Professor of the Year.

In addition to her teaching, Ponce de Leon is a principal partner in the Boston design firm of Office dA. The firm's broad range of work -- from urban planning to furniture design and plans for residential and cultural buildings -- has won more than two-dozen awards. The firm's work also has been exhibited at New York's Museum of Modern Art and at the Venice Biennale.

"In a short period of time, Office dA has established itself as one of the leading design firms in the country," said Ellen Dunham-Jones, director of Georgia Tech's Architecture Program. "Their work is consistently intelligent at all levels, but their innovative and visually stunning assemblies of materials have especially earned them a reputation for advancing architectural aspirations for work that is both high-tech and high-touch."

Dunham-Jones added: "I'm thrilled that Professor Ponce de Leon and our students will be able to make use of Georgia Tech's Advanced Wood Products Lab and materials-science research to further advance her work on digitally manufactured architectural components."

Professor Ponce de Leon has earned several prestigious honors, including the Architectural League of New York's Young Architects Award in 1997 followed by its Emerging Voices award for 2003. In 2002, she was one of the youngest recipients ever of the highly prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters' Award in Architecture.

Ponce de Leon was born in Venezuela. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Miami in 1989, followed by a Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1991.

The Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design has been made possible by the generous gifts of Mr. Ventulett and through commitments made by his firm -- Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates -- his family, friends and business associates.

"Tom has a real love and passion for architecture," Galloway said. "The Architecture Program's first endowed chair could not have a better name associated with it, as Tom Ventulett truly represents one of the best in the field."

Endowed chairs are crucial for attracting world-class students and faculty to Georgia Tech. They also attract eminent teachers and scholars who serve as academic hubs for the curriculum and enrich research efforts among the various colleges.